TV & Radio
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Task Force Hails Historic First -- House of Representatives Votes to Extend Protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Communications Department
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force praised the House of Representatives for its historic vote today to amend the Children's Safety Act by adding what has been known as the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. If enacted into law, the amendment's provisions would extend existing federal hate crimes laws that already cover crimes motivated by race, color, national origin and religion to include crimes based on actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity (including gender-related characteristics). New gender identity/characteristics language was added just this year to make clear that the legislation applied to hate crimes against transgender people. The vote on the amendment was 223 to 199, with 30 Republicans supporting the amendment. The full bill later passed the House overwhelmingly.
"Never before has the House of Representatives voted to protect transgender people in any way," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the Task Force. "And today marks the first time, outside of procedural motions, that the House has affirmatively voted to extend full hate crimes protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This proves that even in times of adversity for our community, when grassroots voices keep up the pressure on our elected officials, decency can prevail."
The Task Force worked closely with the lead sponsors and allies on this legislation to insure that hate crimes against transgender people were explicitly covered because of the prevalence of these crimes and the reality than many are never reported because of widespread concerns about law enforcement inaction or hostility.
"Hate violence continues to cast a shadow on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people," said Eldie Acheson, the Task Force's Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs. "Today's action by the House of Representatives reflects what polls have now shown for years — that Americans want lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to have the same federal protections from hate violence as all other Americans. We especially thank Representatives Conyers, Pelosi, Baldwin and Frank for their leadership in forcing a vote on this measure today."
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2005
HISTORIC HOUSE HATE CRIMES VOTE BOLSTERS TOOLS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT - Human Rights Campaign
‘Hate crimes send a message of fear and Congress answered with a powerful law enforcement tool,’ said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act by an overwhelming 223 to 199 bipartisan vote, taking a historic step toward giving law enforcement the tools they need to enforce and prosecute hate crimes against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. The measure was passed as an amendment to H.R. 3132, the “Children’s Safety Act.”
“Hate crimes send a message of fear and Congress answered with a powerful law enforcement tool,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We must ensure that some of the most heinous crimes are fully prosecuted and enforced. Members of the House, Democrats and Republicans alike, historically signaled today that local law enforcement officials deserve the tools this bill would provide toward fighting the scourge of hate crimes.”
“Every American child deserves the strongest protections from some of this country’s most horrifying crimes,” said Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard and HRC board member. “The House of Representatives answered our call today by passing a bill that would give law enforcement officials important crime-fighting tools. This makes families stronger. It makes America stronger.”
Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; John Conyers Jr., D-Mich.; Christopher Shays, R-Conn.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; are the lead sponsors of the original bill, which would add actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to federal hate crime laws. It would give grants to the states to help prosecute these crimes and allow federal assistance in cases where needed to fully prosecute hate crimes.
The measure enjoys strong bipartisan support and is endorsed by more than 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including: the National Sheriffs’ Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and many others.
Poll after poll continues to show that the American public supports hate crimes legislation inclusive of sexual orientation, including a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in November 2001 showing that 73 percent of Americans supporting hate crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation and a Lake Snell Perry & Associates poll in August 2002 showing that 68 percent of likely voters support hate crimes laws for transgender Americans.
Pelosi: We Must Continue to Vote for Justice, Hope, and Freedom by Ensuring Hate Crimes Prevention Provisions Are Enacted into Law
9/14/2005 7:00:00 PM
To: National Desk
Contact: Brendan Daly or Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616, both of the Office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi; Web: http://democraticleader.house.gov
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke today on the House floor in support of the hate crimes prevention amendment offered by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). The amendment passed by a vote of 223 to 199. Below are Pelosi's remarks:
"Mr. Speaker, I speak in strong support of the hate crimes prevention amendment offered by the distinguished Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Conyers, and I thank him for his strong leadership.
"This legislation is long overdue. Hate crimes have no place in America. All Americans have a fundamental right to feel safe in their communities. Federal hate crimes prevention legislation is the right thing to do, and we must do it now.
"A year ago, a majority of this House voted to support including hate crimes prevention legislation in the Defense Authorization bill, on the heels of a strong vote in the Senate. Similarly, the House acted in September 2000. Twice, the Republican leadership defied the will of the majority of this House and stripped these essential provisions out in conference. Today, we should not be denied. We will have a vote that counts.
"Our nation was founded on the principle that all are created equal, all are entitled to the protection of our laws, and all are entitled to justice. It violates this principle to have individuals in our country targeted for violence because of who they are, the color of their skin, how they worship, or who they love. The perpetrators of violence intend to send a message to certain members of our community that they are not welcome.
"This amendment is based on the Local Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005, introduced by Mr. Conyers and joined by 142 Members. I am proud to be a cosponsor. It will help prevent violence visited upon individuals because of their race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, gender, or disability.
"As Mr. Conyers explained, these protections are necessary, and must be enacted into law. Who can ever forget the brutal murders of James Byrd in Texas, Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, Waqar Hasan in Texas, Gwen Araujo in California, and so many others who have died because of ignorance and intolerance?
"This legislation would increase the ability of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to solve and prevent a wide range of violent hate crimes. Numerous law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, support the need for federal hate crimes legislation.
"Mr. Speaker, as we deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we must remember we are one America, a nation that must be united not just in common purpose, but in common effort and common community. We must work to end false distinctions among us.
"In the words of my good friend and the conscience of this House, the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Lewis, we must strive towards our 'Beloved Community': 'We must move our resources...to build and not to tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate.'
"Let that be our call. Let us live up to the ideals of equality and opportunity that are both our hope and our future. Let us pass this amendment to secure justice for all.
"We must continue to vote for justice, hope, and freedom by ensuring that hate crimes prevention provisions are enacted into law. I urge my colleagues to vote for this vital amendment."